Filters, angles, pixels, lighting, witty captions; the humble Selfie is no longer the simple piece of narcissism it once was. The choice of appropriate pose in itself is a skill, as the less artistically minded such as myself are forced to rotate a fixed portfolio of screwed up faces, visually displaying the agony of this painful social rite of passage. Is it however fair to conclude that such a degree of technical difficulty, the consideration of aesthetics and the existence of a memory or meaning behind each snap, makes the Selfie art? Indeed is Instagram the National Gallery of the future?
Don’t believe that just anyone can take a decent Selfie. Here genetics plays an integral role. Having long arms helps to get the perfect angle, a DNA lottery which is hardly balanced out by the unprecedented sales growth of the Selfie stick. Yes, undoubtedly improving the physical quality of your Selfie no end, but the social stigma and unadulterated visual narcissism of such a device means it’s serious use is nigh on impossible as the angles it achieves makes it difficult to hide it’s usage online, even if you are artistically minded enough to keep the stick out of shot.
The key conceptual idea for all students of the Selfie is the necessity of keeping your own self obsession hidden. It is completely expected that in the production process, some satisfaction with one’s own image is present (indeed why would you take a Selfie if you were physically repulsed by your own image.) However a truly successful Selfie convincingly manages to appear completely natural and unconscious of the photographer’s evidently beautiful face, which is, seemingly by accident, perfectly positioned just so light flows into the image at just the right angle to highlight the subject’s best features. Happily though, on the point of DNA, facial symmetry or being conventionally attractive is no longer the hurdle of a skilled Selfie taker. Tragic though it is, physical imperfections can be removed easily, sometimes simply by the choice of angle. Does this increased accessibility of the Selfie destroy it’s case to be the one of the most progressive art forms?
Self portraits have been considered art for years. Just because the production process has been dramatically reduced does not change the subject matter. So as New Year’s approaches and my Facebook wall is inevitably flooded with various angles of the skull’s of people whom I am increasingly struggling to remember where we met or why on earth I am still unhealthily obsessed with updates of their life, I invite you to revel in this socially accepted celebration of the self and to throw out the twisted psychology of trying to look like this didn’t take at least half an hour to set up. After all, I have always thought the narcissus is not a bad looking flower.
Please note: None of the above should be read as an endorsement to take any more Selfies than is strictly necessary. Uploads to social media sites should be limited to no more than three at once out of sensitivity for other users, who cannot yet bring themselves to unfollow you out of their own tragic obsession with the intricate details of your life.